Boston Wine Expo 2003
Dominus Vertical: 1998 & 1999


1998 was a very cool vintage, with rain at harvest, something which rarely happens. Many worried about 1998, but Edouard pointed out, "If we produce it, we're confident of the wien we're releasing on the market." If it had been a bad vintage, they simply would have sold off the grapes and waited until next year. The wine was a bit young still, with a medium body, spicy flavors. "You can drink it right now, and it's so young at the same time," he commented.

We found this wine to be very different from the others tasted at the vertical. Edouard agreed. "It's a beautiful dancer in a way - while the other wines are sumo wrestlers, this is an elegant dancer."

Sophie Daniels, John Haluska, and Lori Larsen, the distributors


Edouard called 1999 a "huge baby" - this wine came from a dry winter and ended up with grapes that were very small berries. It was a challenging vintage - they ahd to bottle the wine 2 months early because the oak was taking over the tannins in the wine. It was very closed when we tasted it, and Edouard thought that it was hard to guess what the future of the wine would be. "It's like a teenager - he has great qualities but doesn't know what to do with them."

The tasting done, Edouard went into the philosophy behind the winemaking some more. "We are wine growers, not winemakers. The pruning is most important," he explained. One of their secrets has been to help their workers feel more responsible for their grapes. They hire people across many seasons, and make each person take charge of a set of rows from year to year. The workers get to know each vine, and truly care for how they are growing and being pruned.

They do 2-3 crop thinnings before the final cleaning, so that they can remove a little each time and watch the results. For that final "toilletage", or detailed cleaning, they send five women through the vines to remove those single berries that have not fully turned red. They then gently wash all of the grapes on the vine before harvest, to take off the dust and grit. When someone asked Edouard if this was done in France as well, he replied with a smile, "No, it rains in France."

They started doing this in California after a harvest rain in September 1989 created a wine with more complexity than usual. THat year had a very hot August and September, where the vines stopped maturing. By having that water added in September, it freshened up the grapes, got the vine starting again and gained 5-7 days of additional maturation. Edouard said that they were the only winery doing the pre-harvest wash right now, and are considered crazy by some for this extra work. But he feels "our aim is to help nature as well as possible in order for nature to give it back to us. As soon as the grape is harvested, the wine is made."

One person asked if pruning was like reverse osmosis. Edouard replied that it was different. "With reverse osmosis you cannot gain quality, it's too late. You can only go down in quality. WIth cropping, you *can* add quality."

Edouard talked a bit about NapaNook, their more quick-drinking wine. While they produce 7,000 cases a year of Dominus, they only produce 5,000 cases of NapaNook. He calls this a BBQ wine, while his father calls it a "Sunday lunch" wine. He enjoys this generational difference in outlook on the wine. He agrees that NapaNook is much more adapted to the modern style of drinking wine. "Dominus is more old world approach to producing wine," with its complex wines that require long aging before drinking.

Main Page for Boston Expo 2003
First Stop - Fratelli Castino Gavi
Next, the Verdicchio
The Lugana of Fratelli Fraccoroli
The Verdicchios of Verdoni
Dominus Vertical: 1994 & 1995
Dominus Vertical: 1996 & 1997
Dominus Vertical: 1998 & 1999
Ending with Prosecco

All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.